G.R. No. 178366. July 28, 2008
MAIN TOPIC – Rule 39.
The Philippine Gamefowl Commission (PGC), declare and recognize D. Mocorro to be the rightful cockpit operator in the Municipality of Caibiran, Leyte. In 1992, Mocorro applied for the renewal of the registration of his cockpit however, for some reason, Mayor Ramirez refused to issue him a business permit. There is also showing that respondent issued a special permit holding of cockfight in Caibiran in favor of Rosario and Azur. In 1992, petitioner filed with the RTC – Biliran a suit for injunction against the respondent. The RTC issued a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining respondent from holding any cockfight within Caibiran until further orders of the court. Despite the injunction, cockfights continued to be staged which prompted the petitioner to file a motion to cite respondent in contempt of court. The RTC held that the defendants are guilty of indirect contempt for contumacious disobedience of and resistance to writ of preliminary injunction issued by this court and was ordered to pay actual damages of P38,000.00 plus 2,000 every Sunday of each week form the date the defendants started to cause the holding of the cockfight. On June 22, 2001, the CA’s May 31, 2001 Decision became final and executory as evidenced by the corresponding Entry of Judgment. In 2002, the sheriff issued a Notice of Sale on Execution of Real Properties and set a date for public auction.
Respondent, joined by his wife, Gloria, filed a Petition to Exclude Properties from Execution on the ground that (1) the two parcels of land do not belong to respondent; and (2) the persons liable under the RTC’s decision are Azur and the Municipality of Caibiran, Biliran, not respondent, who was impleaded in the suit in his capacity as municipal mayor. In 2003, an Omnibus Motion to Quash Writ of Execution and to Set Aside Sheriff’s Computation alleging that the writ of execution attempts to enforce an incomplete judgment and, in the process, substantially modifies the decision of the RTC and that the same writ seeks to enforce and execute a void judgment. The CA set aside the decision of RTC and denied the grant of Writ of Execution ordering the respondent to pay for the actual damages on the grounds of (1) The fallo of the RTC decision rendered in Civil Case No. B-0837 lacks an important data, referring to the exact amount awarded as actual damages; (2) There is no basis for petitioner’s contention holding respondent and Azur liable for actual damage; and (3) the RTC judge substantially amended or modified the final and executory February 17, 1995 RTC decision, an amendatory action which is null and void for lack of jurisdiction;
Whether or not the validity of the February 17, 1995 RTC Decision which had already attained finality since it was only on January 9, 2003 when respondent, via an Omnibus Motion to Quash Writ of Execution and to Set Aside Sheriff’s Computation, raised the notion that the writ of execution attempted to enforce an incomplete and void judgment.
Yes. A decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable. This quality of immutability precludes the modification of a final judgment, even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and law. And this postulate holds true whether the modification is made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court in the land. This is a fundamental principle in our justice system, without which there would be no end to litigations. Utmost respect and adherence to this principle must always be maintained by those who exercise the power of adjudication. Any act, which violates such principle, must immediately be struck down. The only exceptions to the rule on the immutability of final judgments are (1) the correction of clerical errors, (2) the so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party, and (3) void judgments.
The fallo of the RTC decision did not indicate how the amount of the actual damages award should be determined. While the decision stated that the award of actual damages in the amount of PhP 2,000 per Sunday was to be computed from August 2, 1992, there is nothing in the fallo suggesting at the very least when the PhP 2,000 per Sunday liability will end. In accordance with the exception for modification of a final judgment, there is a need to amend the decision of the RTC pursuant to the nunc pro tunc rule which, we hasten to add, will cause no prejudice to any party.
- A decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable. This quality of immutability precludes the modification of a final judgment, even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and law.
- A nunc pro tunc entry in practice is an entry made now of something which was actually previously done, to have effect as of the former date.